As mentioned in a post a few days ago my home was burglarized. Obviously you can imagine it was traumatic and while I’m thankful no one was hurt, I’m also highly upset about all that was lost. I learned some valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you now so maybe you can be on top of this. These 10 things can really assist you in the event of a burglary, robbery or home invasion.
1. Have a working alarm system. We had an alarm system however it was not activated. We had hoped that the sign in the yard and the shields all over our windows would stave off burglars but we were wrong. So many people have inactive alarms in this downed economy that the crooks are willing to take their chances when it comes to advertisements/warnings on your dwelling.
2. If you are going to purchase a surveillance system be sure the camera is watermarked. In court you’ll need that watermark to hold up your case. Without it the defense will claim you could have tampered with the evidence.
3. Take pictures, save receipts and keep manuals. If you are burglarized and need to make a claim with your insurance company, they will need to see proof that the items you “claim” you owned, you really owned. We have close to 10,000 worth of claim and because I’m a hoarder we are lucky to have proof of all but one item taken. We found a ton of manuals, a few receipts from online purchases but had very few pictures. You can go around your house with a video camera or a point and shoot and make a photo album of sorts.
4. Unless you are very wealthy or considered a high profile case, DNA isn’t going to catch your criminal. Our burglars ate our food and drank straight from our beverages. When we found out they wore gloves I immediately mentioned DNA. The police officer all but laughed in my face. That is more a “TV” crime solving technique. In reality it’s very expensive and not worth it for them to pay for.
5. Throw away everything in your fridge and possibly your freezer. Yes, you heard me right, you don’t want to know what they did to your food. When I told a few of my police officer friends that the crooks were in my fridge they all told me to toss everything. Apparently it’s quite amusing to them to “play” with edibles.
6. Don’t expect to get your belongings returned. The majority of the time your things will be lost in the wind. But also realize that once you receive your claim check from insurance, any recovered belongings become their property and you’ll have to buy it back from them. So if your computer had pictures you couldn’t live without, you might want to wait a little while before purchasing a new one just in case.
7. Check Craigslist and Pawn Shops everyday for your lost merchandise. Some criminals are smart, some aren’t. I’ve talked to numerous people who found their laptop on Craigslist in the days following a burglary. Pawn Shops shouldn’t purchase stolen goods but if the crooks can get it to them before a report is filed they just might be able to sell it off.
8. Make sure you have your serial numbers written down on any and all big electronics. My Dell Laptop was stolen and had it not been for the fact I had a service issue a year ago, I wouldn’t have known my serial number to give to the police. Dell was wonderful and gave me all the information I needed. They even put a hold on my account for service in case someone else tried to call them about the laptop. This goes for other pricey electronics as well.
9. Install a program like DropBox, Prey or LoJack on your computer so that you can find the criminals fast. I didn’t do this and my laptop is probably gone for good. However my friend had DropBox on his laptop and he pulled one over on the crooks. He remotely installed a file with a very “suggestive” name, when the criminal opened this folder it took a picture of him. The police were able to take the photo to the local high school and find the burglar and then the cable company tracked his IP. My friend got a lot of his belongings back keeping him from needing to file a claim with his insurance company.
10. Finally, try and relax. Of course this is a very high stress situation. You and your spouse will probably be at each others throats. Your kids will be scared. You’ll run off of adrenaline for a few days and then suddenly be so tired you can’t stay awake. Just know you’ll get through it. It took me a full week to get back to any form of normal. Both mine and my husband’s boss were very understanding about the need to take off numerous days of work for one thing or another. If you work ask for the same courtesy from yours. And hug each other lot, you’ll need it.
*Here are an extra 2 tips. Be sure to backup your computers a lot. I lost a ton of important pictures and info. Also have a password protect on your computer so that in case you do get your laptop or computer back, your precious info might still be there!
The time after my break in was so stressful. I was really mad at my husband for no good reason. My kids were scared to sleep without lights on. I was so tired I didn’t want to take part in any of the necessary paper work. Tim handled it completely different, being really hyper and aware of his surroundings. Just know you will get through it. I hope these 10 tips to protecting yourself in a robbery or burglary will help you before the fact rather than after the fact. We all learn things the hard way, these ten tips were mine.
*I was not compensated in any way for this post. These are only my opinions and should not be held as fact. Please talk to local law enforcement, security specialists and lawyers for the laws in your area.